Home How We Do It
How We Work at SoftMedia Artisans, Inc.
Our company offers a complete range of
services, including hosting, for customers who want a high-quality presence
on the Web.
At SoftMedia Artisans, Inc. we conduct our work in an
organized, predictible way. This permits us to produce top quality work while
meeting our schedule commitments. Here we tell a little about how we approach
the work we do in each of our three main business categories: building a Web
site, conducting a usability audit, and writing a technical article.
Building a Web Site
On the Web, as in life, first
impressions can be very important. If a visitor to your Web site finds it easy
to use, helpful, and fast, he or she adds your site to the Favorites list and
returns often. If not, the visitor likely never returns. Therefore we work hard
to ensure that the Web sites we build work well for the
intended visitors from day one.
Our experienced Web designers work closely with you to
make certain that the site we design meets your organization's goals and the goals of your intended visitors. Because of
our expertise in Web usability,
we avoid the design errors that can make a Web site confusing and difficult for
We design all Web sites to be usable by visitors with impaired
vision. This includes visitors who change browser settings to increase font
sizes and those who use special browsers that convert Web page content to
Studies show that most visitors find a new Web site
through search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Lycos, Excite, and AltaVista. We
design Web sites to encourage prominent listings in major search engines.
Slow Web pages result primarily from the downloading of
large image files. Our designers know how to reduce the size of image files
while still creating an attractive Web site. We use this knowledge (and other
tricks of the trade) to make sure that the Web pages we design load as
quickly as possible.
Multiple Language Support
from all over the world will visit your Web site. You can expand your
audience tremendously by communicating with your visitors in their own
languages. Although SoftMedia Artisans, Inc. does not provide translating
services, we design Web sites to support the display of each visitor's preferred
language. If your Web site has
no translation available for the visitor's preferred language, its display
defaults to English.
Immediate Content Updates
For Web pages that require frequent changes in content, we
provide the capability for updating those pages so that the new content appears
immediately. The person doing the updating does not need to know HTML or any
technical aspects of your Web site. The updates go into a database and the
Web page rebuilds itself from the database upon the next request for it.
We can also provide the capability for a non-technical
person to add new pages of a predefined type to the Web site.
Many Web sites need to restrict portions of their
content. When required, we design Web sites to limit the restricted pages to
authenticated visitors who are authorized to access them. For financial and
other sensitive transactions, we make use of ultra-powerful encryption
technologies to safeguard the information exchanged over the Internet.
Although our Web designs can be implemented using any
existing technology, SoftMedia Artisans, Inc. now uses state-of-the-art ASP.NET
technology for the Web sites that we develop in-house. The power of this new
technology—which our company tested for well over a year—permits us to develop
and maintain Web sites of the highest quality at much lower costs to our
Using the ASP.NET technology also allows us to build Web
sites that, in Web lingo, scale well. That means
that their performance doesn't suffer when more and more Web surfers visit
Complete Hosting Services
If we design and build your Web site, we will offer to
host it at very competitive rates. You can, of course, select another host or
host the Web site on your organization's servers.
Web Site Maintenance
SoftMedia Artisans, Inc. stands behind our work, and
will make sure that your Web site works as agreed. In our proposal to you, we'll
include a very reasonable rate for performing on-going maintenance work
such as adding new kinds of Web pages and increasing functionality.
Auditing a Web Site for Usability
A usability audit of your Web
site—either live or under development—identifies specific improvements that you
can make to help your Web site meet the goals of your organization. At SoftMedia
Artisans, Inc., we begin our usability audit by learning from you the specific
goals you want your Web site to achieve and the visitors you want to attract. At
the conclusion of our usability audit, we provide you with a complete report,
with these three sections:
- Management Summary
Most customers like to know the bottom line of a report
before delving into supporting details. This section outlines the methods used
and summarizes our findings for the two parts of our audit: customer usability
- Customer Usability
The customer usability analysis
determines how well your Web site meets the needs of your site's visitors.
This section identifies both the features that work well and should be
retained and the features that could be improved. For the latter, we offer
very specific recommendations, not generalities.
- Heuristics Analysis
Our heuristics analysis tests your Web site against more
than 100 predefined usability heuristics. These heuristics provide a
comprehensive list of Web site design guidelines that can be used to aid in
the design of usable Web sites and to evaluate the usability of existing Web
sites. This section of the report provides a detailed explanation of how your
Web site stacks up against each heuristic.
Analyzing Customer Usability
The first part of our
usability audit focuses on how well your Web site satisfies the needs of the
visitors you wish to attract. Here we stand in for your potential visitors
by following these well-defined steps:
- Develop Personas
Based on the visitors you want to attract to your Web
site, we invent several people (or personas) in
much greater detail than you might expect.
- Develop Scenarios
We create a detailed step-by-step scenario for each
persona to follow to, first, locate your Web site and, then, to use your site
to meet his or her own particular objectives.
- Select Personas to
In this step, we select a subset of the
personas such that if their objectives are met,
the objectives of the other (untested) personas will also be met.
- Test the Scenarios for the
Here we follow the step-by-step
scenario for each of the selected personas, keeping careful notes concerning
all usability issues.
- Document the Results
Finally, we list all usability issues encountered and
recommend solutions. For example:
"Add a link to the Privacy Statement page to allow a user
to return directly to the New User Registration page (without the loss of any
In our usability audit report, we include the personas
and scenarios developed. We support our specific recommendations with the actual
results of our scenario tests.
Testing Against Usability Heuristics
The second part of our usability audit focuses on
detailed heuristics that describe the best practices for
creating a usable Web site. We organize our 100+ usability heuristics into
these 10 categories:
- Typesetting: providing
easy to read fonts and text formatting
- Comprehension: writing
- Visibility: making
information easy to see
- Visualization: using
graphics to help visualize information
- Forms and Commands:
clarifying human-computer interactions
- Animation: offering
- Navigation: assisting
with movement throughout the site
- Internet Issues:
addressing unique-to-the-Internet usability issues
- Writing Style: writing
for reading on the Web
- Reach: making the site
easy to find
Each heuristic is specific, objective, and testable.
During our analysis, we test each of your Web pages against every heuristic. Our
report provides a detailed definition of each heuristic, and lists the steps to
take, if any, to satisfy the requirements of the heuristic.
Writing a Technical Article
SoftMedia Artisans, Inc. can
provide well written, state-of-the-art
information for your readers in the subject areas of Web development,
software usability, and ASP.NET development. When hired to write a technical
article or review, we organize the work required into these three roles:
The author, who receives the byline for the piece,
organizes the piece and drafts its content. Within our company, we select the
author based on expertise in the particular subject area to be covered.
The researcher locates information and examples needed by
the author. If the piece uses code examples, the researcher tests them to
verify their accuracy.
The reviewer reads the piece before submission,
suggesting edits and modifications to the author. The reviewer also makes
certain that the piece satisfies the formatting and other submission
requirements specified by the publisher.
Depending upon our workload and the deadline for
submission, two or more of us may perform a particular role. On other occasions,
either the author or the reviewer may double as the researcher.
Doing a Job Well
Regardless of the job you hire us to perform, SoftMedia
Artisans, Inc. commits the company to producing
high-quality products on schedule. If you contact us, we'd be pleased to submit a
proposal for the work you need, whether it be a complete Web site, teaming with
your organization's developers, auditing the usability of your Web site, or
writing an article or review for your publication.
Home How We Do It